The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Locker room murals enhance Chieftain pride

Alumnus returns to improve locker room quality

The locker rooms at Yutan have been a source of complaints for many years with students pointing out the girls’ lime green ceilings, lockers not closing or even opening, no school colors and an overall lack of pride for the students here. However, both locker rooms received a big makeover during Christmas break.

Yutan High School parent and alumnus Peyton Lewis was recently asked to paint new murals in both the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms.

This is one of the designs done by Lewis in the boys’ locker room. This is one of the sayings for the boys’ basketball team.

“I spoke with Coach Gardner about the possibility of working on some designs for the boys’ locker room, and he was very receptive.  After speaking with [my daughter] about the condition of the girls’ locker loom, she thought I should check it out for myself.  Needless to say, I was happy that Coach Carlton was willing to proceed with improvements,” said Lewis.

Lewis was a natural choice for the project, as he has been creating murals for about 20 years and has done many around Yutan and surrounding areas for schools, restaurants and commissioned work for individuals.

“I’ve done several murals and illustrations over the past 20-plus years. Some of my favorites are here in Yutan.  Several years ago when Kevin Johnson was the superintendent, he was receptive to utilizing the various talents within the community.  He reached out to me back in 2009 and had me do the gym and weight room mural,” said Lewis.

This experience meant both head coaches knew they could trust Lewis with their vision.

This is one of the murals done in the girls’ locker room. Lewis wanted to add some color for the girls.

“I knew he did the Chieftain head in the gym and the work he does is always great. I wanted this done right, so I knew that Peyton was the right person for the job and I knew he would do great work,” said head boys basketball coach Jesse Gardner.

In approaching the project, Lewis wanted the students to feel some sense of pride when walking into the locker rooms.

“My goal with the locker room project was to create a sense of ‘school pride’ for all the students, not just the student-athletes.  The locker rooms here need some serious work, so by doing these murals, I hope that people see it’s easy to make changes around the school, especially when it’s affordable and done by community members who care about the school, “ said Lewis. 

Lewis was able to collaborate with both basketball coaches to come up with the final product.

“Reaching out to Coach Gardner earlier this fall and gauging the interest of the school to see if they’d want to collaborate and do a mural project for the locker rooms was the starting point.  Shortly after speaking with Coach Gardner, Coach Carlton emailed me and gave me the green-light to work on a plan for the girls’ locker room.  Both coaches had a vision of what they wanted with a slogan for their programs.  I tried to make the murals inclusive to all students, not just athletes, since all students use the locker rooms for PE,” said Lewis.

Lewis wanted the locker rooms to pop, so he went in weeks before the project started to see what he had to work with.

“The girls’ locker room walls weren’t as big, so I had to improvise some and designed a wooden sign, similar to the sign with the horseshoe in the boys’ locker room.  My hope is the girls can touch the sign on the way out to compete each night for good luck!” said Lewis. “As far as the boys’ locker room, I really liked the saying ‘Run to the Fight.’  That’s a slogan I’ve seen on shirts around town and the bracelets that they handed out. That’s the power of branding!  I thought that slogan looked great on the wall and then both rooms got a large Yutan ‘Y.’  I’d like to see that ‘Y’ all around both the elementary and high school halls and common areas.” 

 The completed projects for both locker rooms went beyond expectations for players and coaches.

“He exceeded my expectations. He did more than I thought he was going to do. I thought he was only doing one wall, but he did two more for us. It was awesome seeing the boys walk in and seeing how happy they were with how it looked,” said Gardner.

The students agreed that the updated locker rooms gave them a new sense of pride.

“It was awesome walking in and seeing how much he changed the locker room. Even when it was just black on the wall, it made such a difference. The finished project was really awesome to see,” said junior Bennett Ell. 

The girls were also excited by the results of their locker room.

Lewis made two “Y’s” out of wood for both locker rooms. The “Y” is the first thing you see when walking into both locker rooms. “Branding of a school is important, and seeing the ‘Y’ around the building helps to develop a sense of school pride and community pride,” said Lewis.

“It’s nice to know that someone cared about us and wanted to come in and do this mural for us. It’s nice to walk in and see something that makes you happy and that you want to actually go into the locker room and not dread going in,” said senior Maura Tichota.

Lewis is thankful to the new school leadership for giving him the opportunity to complete this project.

“We have some new blood in the building and a school board and administration who finally have their priorities in-line with the values of any successful school,” said Lewis.  “The current board, Mr. Pfeil, fellow administrators, teachers and coaches all care about the students.  They want to utilize any resource available to make the school a special place for everyone, even if that means just a few layers of paint.”

Lewis is hoping this is just the start of improvement projects for the school.

“If my murals can help make the students feel some pride and improve their outlook on each day, then it was worth it to me and I’d be willing to do future painting projects for the district if they decided to go that route,” said Lewis.

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About the Contributor
Jade Lewis, Junior writer
Jade Lewis is a junior and is in her second year of journalism.  She enjoys writing stories and taking photos. Outside journalism, Jade is involved in NHS,  basketball, and lifting at Saunders County Medical Center.
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